Category Archives for "Ways to Celebrate"

A Thoughtful Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift

If time got away from you and you’re wondering what you can give the special mom in your life that won’t have that clearly grabbed-at-the-last-minute-out-of-desparateness look to it, here’s an idea for you. Find a fun frame – if you don’t have one on hand, craft stores and discount stores generally have great options – and put a saying in it that you have printed off  the computer. You can put a heartfelt sentiment in original words, or find an existing quote that sums up your feelings toward this special lady. Here are some examples that I put together for today’s Friday Five.

Home is where your mom is


Mother's Day Gift


Mother's Day Gift


Mother's Day Gift


Mother's Day Gift



May is Date Your Mate Month!

May is Date Your Mate MonthThere are so many celebrations and weird ‘holidays’ in May, I was having trouble deciding which one to write about. When I came across Dennis Spielman’s Uncovering Oklahoma’s 2014 Date Idea Book, I knew that International Tuba Day (first Friday in May), Lumpy Rug Day (May 3) and No Socks Day (May 8) weren’t going to make the final cut.

The book isn’t just a laundry list of places to eat and events – it’s a thoughtful collection of eateries, activities and options with remarks about what special characteristic makes it a good date choice. From fitness options to less-fit-conscious options (I’m just now finding out about a Cake Eater’s Club??) there’s something for every age, taste and budget. I was going to have my husband choose between a glass-blowing class and checking out a night of live music, pop-up shops and a major food truck gathering, but then I remembered it’s date month – we can do both!

Click on picture for book information

Click on picture for book information

For the evening date that doesn’t end until after the morning meal, Spielman highlights several Bed and Breakfasts around the state that offer special features to enhance your  spousal date. I was delighted to see Holmberg House in Norman, run by our dear friends, innkeepers Lou and Gene Christian, included on the list.

Holmberg House

Holmberg House, Est. 1914, Norman, OK (Click picture for more information)

Holmberg House, Est. 1914, Norman, OK
(Click picture for more information)








The book includes a handful of suggestions for outside of Oklahoma, and some clever ideas for date activities.

For those of you who aren’t in Oklahoma, I’m pleased to tell you that I entered several state and city names with the words “dating ideas” into a search engine and for each there were several articles with entertaining suggestions. So while the ideas may not be as organized as the Spielman book or all in one place, they are readily available. Not to mention that I did a lot of the leg work for you in coming up with creative dating ideas in some previous posts: Date Your Mate for Free, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. You will see things on those lists that will make you say: “Hmmm – I never thought about that for a date – what a great idea!” You and your spouse are now officially armed to fully participate in Date Your Mate Month!

Remember: Statistics show that a couple that makes time to play together is more likely to stay together. Just sayin’ . . .


Celebrate GOOD DEEDS DAY on March 9

Good deed dayThe seventh annual Good Deed Day is being celebrated on March 9, 2014. This international event was started in 2007 to encourage people to  focus on good and do good in simple ways – in the form of a ‘good deed.’ And what a wonderful response has resulted! To read about the story and mission of this event, click HERE.

Participation is easy and fun for the whole family. Simply decide on a good deed you would like to do and commit to doing it on March 9, 2014. If you want to go to the Good Deed website and make an official pledge, it takes less than a minute and your deed will be counted in with all the other participants. They’ll even send you a reminder about the pledge. But you don’t have to make it official to participate – just do it!

Here are five suggestions for a good deed:

1. Encourage. Write a note, send a card, or give a call to someone who could use a word of encouragement.

2. Pay somebody’s electric bill. With these record colds, many are struggling to keep the heat on. Check with your pastor or a school counselor to see if they know of someone who has a need. You can present your gift through your referral source to be anonymous.

3. Visit somebody who is lonely. If a name doesn’t immediately come to mind, again your pastor might be a good source to find out about somebody who is alone. Or you could check with a staff member at a local nursing home to learn about a resident that doesn’t have family. If permissible, bringing your pet along can be a real pick-me-up for someone who is lonely.

4. Gift a plant. Put it anonymously on someone’s porch. Or drop it off to that small business that treats you so well.

5. Tip a fast-food employee. Let them know you appreciate their positive attitude or the job they do. I can (almost) guarantee you that you will see a face light up!

These are my suggestions. To find more, check the list on the Good Deed site – it will scroll down when you hit ‘participation.’ You can also read through pledges that others have made for more inspiration!




5 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ Without Words

Friday Five Val day

Valentine’s Day brings with it expectations about how we will express our love: flowers, candy, jewelry, dinner out, stuffed animals and Hallmark cards. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things – other than they’re a little. . . well, predictable. Sometimes it’s the little things – the quietest gestures – that say “I love you” the loudest.

Here are 5 ways to say “I love you” without words.

1. Blow a kiss. Whether across a crowded room where you only have eyes for your mate, or across an empty room in your own home with no people in between the two of you, it’s likely to result in a smile or a return air kiss directed at you.

2. Silent massage. Be it  the ‘ol sneak up behind ’em and rub their neck and shoulders or reaching for a foot as you watch TV together, you’re sure to get a wordless ‘mmmmmmmmmm.’

3. Dedicate a song. You have to be of a certain age to get this one. If you know you’re going to be listening to the radio as you work in the garage together or drive to that social engagement, call the radio station, request a song and ask that it be dedicated to your sweet spouse. An updated version? Have that special song cued up so when they start their car engine it’s the first thing they hear.

4. Have a bath ready. When they get home. Or right after the kids are put to bed. With two towels waiting to be used.

5. Provide a smile. Easy to do by putting that fun photo of the two of you or a comic strip that made you think of them in a place they will stumble across during their day. Here’s one that put a smile on my face – when I first saw it taped to my steering wheel some years back and – because I framed it – many times since!    Friday Five comic

Happy Valentine’s Day!


How To Write A Love Letter To Your Spouse – And Why You Should

How to Write a Love Letter to Your Spouse - and Why You ShouldYour mate deserves a love letter from you. Words they can hold in their hand and press against their heart. Words that last past the saying of them. Words that can hearten them in tough times and make them smile in sad times.

When the tornadoes, floods, and fires hit, what do people grab in the precious moments before destruction? It’s not the $200 bedspread or the slick leather boots. It’s the pictures, the letters, and the other irreplaceable sentimental momentos. Your letter will be among them.

Many of you can sit down right now and effortlessly craft a lovely note to your spouse letting them know how special they are – and I hope you will do just that. The rest of us could use a little help getting started.

First, there’s not a right way. While I think hand-written notes are hard to beat, that may not be an option for everyone. Length is up to you – anything from one amazing line, to a few paragraphs, or even multiple pages.

You can find options to write on in the greeting card section of stores that have interesting pictures or sayings on the cover and are blank inside – just waiting for your personalized words. Stationery or notecards work just as well. Don’t let a lack of fancy paper stop you – your wonderful note will be just as appreciated and cherished if it’s on notebook paper or a napkin!

So you’ve got the paper, the pen and the willing spirit – now where do you get the content? Here are some ideas:

  • Brainstorm a list of what you love about your mate. (Those of you who took the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge can look back at your existing list) Just write – don’t think and edit. There’s no such thing as too sappy or corny when it’s for your eyes only. Now look over that list. What would you like your mate to know? What will make them feel special? What would you want your mate to convey to you if they had written the list?
  • Check out some romantic poets. Copy a poem for your mate and tell them why that poem made you think of them.
  • Lyrics from songs sometimes express perfectly how you feel. Use them.
  • Are there lines from a movie that you find meaningful? Share them with an explanation of why these special words triggered thoughts of them
  • Put “Love Letters” in the search on Pinterest – read some to get ideas
  • Google ‘quotes about love’ for inspiration

The content doesn’t have to be original* – it just has to be a sincere representation of how you feel.

Summary of love-letter writing ‘rules:’

  1.  Hand-write if possible, type if not
  2. Any paper is fine to use (except toilet paper)
  3.  Just do it
  4. Repeat on occasion whether needed or not

*I’m not saying it’s OK to claim another’s work as your own – but it’s okay to use it for ideas, inspiration or to quote from citing the source.

Have you ever received a love letter from your spouse? Have you written one lately?



Friday Five #6

Friday Five pre-Valentine editionFriday Five. It may be informational, entertaining, inspirational, or some combination. It may be five related thoughts, or five random topics. But it will be short. And it will leave you with a new thought, idea, or smile on your face.

Welcome to the pre-Valentine edition. I had planned to cover the Valentine’s Day idea in the next Friday Five – which will actually be Valentine’s Day. But then I realized, while timely, you wouldn’t have a chance to implement any of the ideas you liked. So here it is – a week ahead of time – for your using pleasure.

1. A blast-from-the-past Valentine greeting. Remember candy bar cards? They seemed to pop up everywhere in the 90s and then just sort of disappeared. The concept? Buy a bunch of candy bars and candy that you can create a message with. Get a poster board and write out your Valentine greeting, gluing in the candy in place of words. Great Valentine options are: Bliss, Hugs, Kisses, Symphony, Hot Tamales, Good & Plenty, Life Savers, Milky Way, Nutrageous, Sugar Babies, and Bit-o-Honey. Note: this is probably not a good time to use Chunky or Big Chunk – unless your adding “of my heart” after it!candy card


2. Start the day out with a breakfast Valentine. This picture was from a ‘he said/she said’ blog article entitled Romantic Aphrodisiacs! 12 Foods That Will Totally Improve Your Love Life. While the title may be a bit overstated, there were a few surprises on their list. Click here to read – but remember: I didn’t say I agreed with the list. Friday Five Valentine Breakfast


3. A collection of 7 printable Valentines Day greetings. “Wild About You” with the little wild animals attached and the cool cup wrappers caught my attention. To see the rest of them and/or print out, click here.Friday five valentine prinatables


4. A homemade gift that even you can make. If you can glue, you can make this charming little framed work of art for the one you love. An empty frame, wording can be stenciled on a painted card board or printed out on paper that you glue to a backing, get a couple of spoons from a discount or thrift store and voila – a thoughtful gift sure to put a smile on your mate’s face.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of


5. Hmmmmm, I never thought of it that way.

Friday Five Valentine Humor



Marital Bingo

Marital BingoIf you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your spouse that has a little more entertainment value than a bouquet of flowers, how about trying some Marital Bingo?

Here’s how it works: You both list 24 things  you would like the other to do. Vary the list by including some that can be done quickly, some that need a little more effort, and some that are more of an investment. Be reasonable – make sure they are really doable.

You may want to make some rules  as to what’s off limits and/or unacceptable. Examples of things that might be included:

  • make an ice cream run
  • bring home dinner
  • write a thank you to the other’s family member
  • foot rub
  • hang clothes up 3 days in a row
  • no swearing for a day
  • watch spouses show without complaining (Note: saying “See? I didn’t complain” before the final credits have completely run equals complaining!)
  • morning and evening dogwalk
  • empty the dishwasher

Rate each one with a 1, 2, or 3 based on the amount of time/effort needed to achieve.

Make a bingo ‘card’ by either drawing or using the computer to create a grid of 5 x 5 boxes. Put the word “FREE” in the third box of the third row. In each of the other boxes write in an item from your list, making sure to have at least one of each category in each row and column. Exchange your cards. Or you can both use the same card if you can agree on 24 activities, using different colors to mark them off as completed. bingo edit

Pick a prize that each of you will win if you’re the first to get a ‘bingo’ (one line in any direction of accomplished deeds). Maybe something like winner chooses the movie AND movie snacks on a designated night. Pick a bigger prize for a double bingo (dinner at a favorite place even though the non-winner – notice I didn’t say ‘loser’ – isn’t fond of?).

If you’re enjoying the game, agree upon an even bigger prize and play ‘blackout’ – first to complete entire card wins big!

Marital bingo


Christmas Stocking Stuffers – Where to Find Them, How to Wrap Them; the Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza Finale!


We’re wrapping up (pun not originally intended – but it works) the stocking stuffer extravaganza with great tips on where to buy stocking stuffers and ideas on how to wrap them. You already know you can go on-line and find almost anything you want – and that may be a good choice for those hard-to-find specialty items. But for most of our stocking stuffers we don’t want to pay more for postage and so-called ‘handling’ than the price of the gift. We need to search locally s for our stocking-stuffer treasures.

Christmas Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza - Day 5


1. Savvy store-owners cluster great options for stocking stuffers around the place customers have to wait to pay. Peruse the check-out lanes at the following:

  • Grocery Stores – candy bars, mints, gum, batteries, nail clippers, magazines, novelty toys, gift cards . . .
  • Book stores – mini books, high-end candy, bookmarks, pens, novelty writing instruments, small games, reading glasses . . .
  • Liquor stores – one ounce nips, miniature cocktails, drink recipes, miniature bottles of wineStocking stuffer ideas - theater candy . . .
  • Electronic stores – earbuds, electronic hand-held games, car gadgetry, novelty toys, flashdrives, theater-size candy . . .
  • Office supply stores – mini calendars, highlighters, pens, candy, stressballs . . .
  • Craft/hobby stores – glue, batteries, glitter, novelty toys, candy, small crafting supplies . . .
  • Bed/bath stores – hand cream, novelty kitchen items like vegetable scrubbers, other stuff you didn’t know existed . . .
  • Fabric stores – closures, thread, fasteners, buttons, needles, pins, stain removal, tape measure . . .
  • Drug stores – cookie packages, candy, gum, mints, key covers, chapstick, novelty items . . .

2. The pen/pencil aisle of office supply or discount stores – pens, pencils, post-its, highlighters

Stocking stuffer ideas3. Drug store snack aisle – small packages of nuts, cookies, potato chips, popcorn

Stocking stuffer ideasstocking stuffer ideas







4. Bed and Bath type stores usually have a wall where small personal items can be found. It’s a great place to look for things like sleep masks, hand-held massagers, hand treatment gloves, foot treatment socks, bath brushes, novelty lights, and other things you didn’t know you needed until you see them there.

Who knew sleep masks came in so many styles? (courtesy of

Who knew sleep masks came in so many styles?
(courtesy of

5. At  bed/bath stores,’superstores’ like Target and Walmart, as well as gourmet food/pantry type stores, there is a wall or aisle with all sort of small kitchen gadgets and utensils perfect for stocking stuffing. Check out the baking aisle, too.


Courtesy of

Courtesy of

6. FREE. Yes, that’s always a nice option. Here are some places to get supplemental stuffers at no cost

  •  Recipes and recipe cards – Kitchenware stores, grocery store displays, big-box-store food sample tables, internet
  • Paint sticks/stirrers – hardware store
  • Knit/crochet patterns – next to yarn at hobby stores, internet
  • Perfume/cologne/make-up samples – if you purchase products like Avon or Mary Kay, sometimes your distributor has samples to try
  • Woodwork patterns – internet

WRAPPING STOCKING STUFFERS is always optional. Following are a few tips/ideas for presentation.

  1. Cut down packaging such as the cardboard back around things like lipstick and flashdrives.
  2. Open up packages with multiple items and put them in separately. For instance, a 3-pack of four-ounce coffee beans can turn into 3 packs of coffee – it not only fits better, it’s 3 separate surprises.
  3. Just take a few samples out of boxes of things like teabags and hot chocolate envelopes (it’s cheaper than buying less single servings) and put the remainders away to be shared later.
  4. Slide rolled-up  magazines, brochures, or those free patterns you’ve downloaded into an empty paper towel tube and wrap.
  5. T-shirts, tank tops, socks, and undies can also be tucked into paper towel tubes. Even f it sticks out at both ends – just cover the whole thing with wrapping paper and tie each end with a ribbon past the point of where the item extends past the end of the tube.
  6. Toilet paper roll tubes can be used for smaller items like (some) undies and hankies.
  7. Lidded empty Crystal Light type containers can be used to harness things like pens, hair ornaments, and candy,  making it easier to wrap.
  8. Gifts can be layered for a ‘twofer’ result. For instance, a bandana can be wrapped around a mini flashlight for a double surprise. Or a gift card can be tucked into a sock.

If you missed any of the EXTRAVAGANZA, catch up with the following posts: Stocking Stuffers $5 or Less; 75 One-Size-Fits-All Stocking Stuffers; Stocking Stuffers for HIM or Her, Themed Stocking Stuffers; and (the post that started it all) 7 Ways to Get Back the Childhood Magic of the Holidays.

Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza Finale



10 Ways Couples Can Put the THANKS in Thanksgiving

10 Ways for Couples to Put the THANKS in ThanksgivingWith Thanksgiving as its finale, November is a great month to focus on the many people and things there are to be thankful for in our lives. The great food is just a bonus! If you and your spouse want to put the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving this year, here are 10 suggestions to get you started.

1. Send a Thank You note to someone who has affected your marriage. Is there a couple who set a fine marital example? A friend or relative that was supportive during a tough time? Send them a hand-written thank you note letting them know they made a difference.

2. Double tip – or triple tip. Let that food-server in your local diner know their service is appreciated and valued by going beyond the current ‘obligatory’ percentage with your tip. Breakfast servers often are up the earliest, hustling the most, and pulling in the least in tips. Just having coffee? Watch a face light up when you leave some bills instead of change as a thank-you.

3. Add a note to the tip jar. This isn’t instead of a tip, mind you. But if you’re at a place that has a tip jar out for counter service and you have something nice to say about your waitperson or the establishment, jot a note letting them know and put it in the tip jar with your cash tip.

4. Serve any day but Thanksgiving. Show your appreciation to a local shelter or ‘soup kitchen’ for the service they provide to the community by helping out.  Some years back my husband was out of town for Christmas and I was alone. I decided to help serve the holiday meal at a shelter. Feeling virtuous, I called the shelter to let them know the good news – that I would be gifting them with my services. They weren’t nearly as impressed as I was. While such places need holiday help, many offer on those days – I actually heard the words “twice-a-year-do-gooders” uttered by a staffer. Often there are shortages of help at the beginning of the month (because people are saving their good deed for the holiday) or the Monday after – when everyone is good deeded out.

5. Place a potted chrysanthemum on your neighbor’s porch. Often we don’t interact with our neighbors other than to wave as we’re coming and going. ‘Good neighbors’ don’t have to be friends – they can be the person who let UPS leave your package at their house, the ones that brought your dog back when it got out of the fence, or the one who is respectful about only playing their drums before 7:00 p.m. Let them know they are appreciated.

6. Praise publicly. Give the waitperson who did a good job, a special teacher, your pastor, an inspiring community member a shout-out on Facebook or write a note to their employer. My husband and I were once in a Best Buy waiting a ridiculous amount of time to get help with buying a computer. A staffer heard us talking (read: grumbling) about the wait, apologized for it and spent the next half  hour getting us connected to all the right product. When we checked out, the clerk ringing us up asked our helper what he was doing there on his day off. His day off? We wrote his supervisor a letter saying how impressive it was that an employee thought enough of his employer to protect their reputation in such a way and how helpful that young man had been. A week later we made another trip back to Best Buy. There, in their front entrance, was a framed picture of our helper with a banner that proclaimed him Employee of the Month.

7. Require thanks before the food. If you are hosting a dinner during the month, have a small paper and pencil by each place setting. Maybe printed out acorns or leaves? Instruct each guest to write down 3 things they are grateful for prior to eating. After everybody has been served go around the table and have each read their list. Allow discussion between the reads if it evolves.

8. Send someone a list of reasons you are grateful for them in your life. If it is a family member, divide the list to reflect both the natural relationship and the in-law relationship. With all the in-law jokes that abound, how nice for a mother-in-law/father-in-law/whoever-in-law to know the positive is celebrated.

9. Give them what they admire. Has somebody special in your life admired something you own? Is it an appropriate thing to gift to them? Years back when my parents downsized during a move, they gave us a lovely milk glass creamer and sugar set that I was fond of. One of my best friends admired it on a visit. She happens to have an interesting milk glass collection. She was delighted to later receive it as a gift – she appreciated the history of the objects as well as their beauty. And frankly, they looked better sitting on shelves in her living room with milk glass cousins than they did in our cupboard.

10. Gift the one who doesn’t get gifts. We often think to gift people we interact with regularly – our hair stylist, a colleague, a teacher. But what about the receptionist at the salon, the colleagues’ assistant who often helps out, a librarian, the janitors, the ‘lunch ladies’? Drop off a little something to that person who is often overlooked – letting them know they are indeed seen and appreciated.

Please add to the list of how couples can put the THANKS into Thanksgiving in the comment section below.

Related: The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge